Roland-Garros: As owner of the place, Rafael Nadal quenches the ardor of Corentin Moutet

Roland-Garros: As owner of the place, Rafael Nadal quenches the ardor of Corentin Moutet

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The Spanish Rafael Nadal, after his victory against Corentin Moutet, on the Philippe-Chatrier court, at Roland-Garros, on May 25, 2022.

As a child, Corentin Moutet slept in Rafael Nadal’s tank top as pajamas, as he confessed to journalists, after his victory in the first round of Roland-Garros. On Wednesday, May 25, when good children go to bed, the 23-year-old Frenchman had decided not to let himself be lulled to sleep by his childhood idol, on the Philippe-Chatrier pitch. Before rubbing elbows with the owner of the house, thirteen times winner it must be remembered, the small lefty (1.75 m) with a velvet paw claimed not to have the trouilometer at zero: “I am not afraid of anything at all. I go there to win, I am a competitor, that is my job. »

Sent in three sets (6-3, 6-1, 6-4) by the Spaniard, the gala evening unfortunately came to an end for the Parisian, As for the 15,000 spectators. For the second year, the tournament schedules night sessions at the Central (from 23 to 1Ahem June), which give rise to an independent box office. After a launch in 2021 spoiled by the camera and then the restrictive calibers imposed by the health situation, this time the public is in the game -and once it is not customary-, even in the locker rooms.

Court Philippe-Chatrier, at Roland-Garros, during the second round between Rafael Nadal and Corentin Moutet, in Paris, on May 25, 2022.

To warm up before the players enter the court, the tournament featured DJs: Etienne de Crécy, Yuksek and Jabberwocky, among others. “We want these night sessions to be an event, a show. And may it become an unmissable Parisian evening during these ten evenings”, Amélie Mauresmo, tournament director, enthused during the tournament presentation in March. On Wednesday night, La Fine Equipe did what it could with the turntables, but the Parisian gloom did not allow Le Chatrier, with its folded roof, to catch fire.

read also Article reserved for our subscribers At Roland-Garros, highly confidential afternoon sessions

Diving into the unknown

Neither does the script. This match was a dive into the unknown for the current 139Y World Cup, who had earned the right to face the Spanish in the second round by eliminating another tournament winner on Monday, the Swiss Stan Wawrinka (2015), who returns. Moutet had never faced the Spaniard before, never even kicked the ball with him in training. Embarrassed for three months by tendinitis in the wrist, the Frenchman had landed at the Porte d’Auteuil with, despite all the preparation on the crushed, two fleeting appearances in Challenger (the second division of the circuit).

The French Corentin Moutet in front of Rafael Nadal, on the Philppe-Chatrier court, at Roland-Garros, on May 25, 2022.

Also for Spanish, this edition is one of those in which it is presented with less certainty. Without a title this year on his favorite surface and, for the first time since 2004, without a Masters 1000 final in these European lands that he has made his own for a long time (Monte-Carlo, Madrid, Rome).

After a thunderous comeback earlier in the year, an Australian Open victory synonymous with 21Y record Grand Slam title and a 21-match win streak, the enchanted hiatus was suddenly closed. A rib injury in Indian Wells in early March forced him to take it easy until the Madrid tournament, where, for the first time, he surrendered to his compatriot and announced his successor, Carlos Alcaraz, in the quarterfinals. end. The following week, in Rome, he finished his round of 16 wincing and limping against Denis Shapovalov.

With almost 36 years (he will be on June 3), Nadal is once again overcome by that evil that has been eating away at his left foot since 2005. “I am not injured… I live with an injury [le syndrome de Muller-Weiss]he corrected before the media after his defeat against the Canadian. There is nothing new. There are many days when I can’t train normally.. It is a pain that comes and goes. Sometimes stronger, sometimes less. »

The former number one in the world has learned to manage this pain that torments him a little more every day, but that no longer seems to be far from the breaking point. Because she ruins her daily life far beyond the tennis courts. “There will come a time when my head will say stop, because the pain takes away the pleasure. Not just for tennis, in life. »

Also read the interview: Article reserved for our subscribers Rafael Nadal: “I play with pain”

“I stop making predictions about Nadal”

On Monday, all eyes were glued to his duck blue shoes for his entry into the race against Australian Jordan Thompson. The Majorcan’s movements and score (6-2, 6-2, 6-2) to sign his 106Y The victory at Roland-Garros, a Grand Slam record held until now by Roger Federer (105 at Wimbledon), encouraged optimism.

On Wednesday, under the gaze of his uncle Toni, advisor to the Canadian Félix Auger Aliassime, the Spaniard was still far from settling down. But he has such a margin over most of his opponents that a Nadal, even at 75% of his mids, is still too dangerous a player.

The new director of the Parisian Grand Slam, Amélie Mauresmo, does not rule out the Spanish from the list of contenders for the Musketeers Cup: “I remember 2020. The playing conditions were supposed to cut it short, with fall and rain, heavy clay, (…) however, he did not drop a set. He stopped making predictions about Nadal, He said, questioned on the sidelines of the draw on the favorites of the men’s team of this 2022 edition. When he’s here, most of the time, he’s doing very well. »

“The pain is still there. The question is not if it will disappear, but if it is too strong or not, if it allows me to play with real chances of winning or not, said the interested party on the eve of his entry into the race. And if I didn’t believe it, I probably wouldn’t be here. » Sincere conviction or excessive optimism? The rest of the tournament will tell.

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